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Adams moves River Shannon Management Agency Bill

13 January, 2016 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today moved the River Shannon Management Agency Bill in the Dáil.

The Bill is jointly sponsored by Teachta Adams and Brian Stanley TD.

Speaking during the debate, Gerry Adams said:

“I have visited homes and businesses in various parts of the state which have been very badly affected by the latest floods. I have witnessed the devastation of family homes and the destruction of people’s livelihoods. Many farms also have been very badly affected.

“In Clonlara, beside the Shannon in County Clare, Geraldine and Joe Quinlivan have to travel a mile by boat to get to their home. Joe has to wear a lifejacket. They are exasperated beyond belief. Joe, who has worked on the river all of his life explained the problem.

“He told me: ‘If you don’t clean your chimney and if you have a coal or wood fire, then you are going to be in trouble. If you don’t clean the river then you shouldn’t be surprised if this leads to flooding. Excess water has to go somewhere. If the river has shallowed or narrowed because it hasn’t been cleaned then adjoining lands will flood.’

“They are also critical of the refusal to listen to residents who have the local knowledge essential to help combat flooding.

“Their family have lived in their home in Springfield, Clonlara for 150 years. They have now been hit by floods in 2000, 2006, 2009, 2014 and again this year.

“The family live in dread from November to March each year, especially if it has been a wet summer and the water table is high. There are 60 other families in a similar situation and all live in fear of decisions taken by the ESB at the Parteen Weir.

“The Government has consistently failed to deal with the issue of flooding in a strategic and co-ordinated fashion. Most of the consistent and repeated flooding has been in the Shannon region.

“The catchment flood risk assessment and management (CFRAM) identifies 300 locations where flood defences need to be provided. Sixty six of these are located along the River Shannon.

“The problem of organising a co-ordinated response to flooding in the Shannon region is exacerbated by the myriad of bodies and agencies that currently have statutory authority for the River Shannon.

“The fact that no single agency exists to manage the river, or to co-ordinate the response to flooding in the Shannon region, is an indictment of successive governments.

“In December, I called on the Taoiseach to establish a single agency. The Taoiseach rejected my proposal but gave no logical rationale. The recently announced River Shannon taskforce has no legislative basis. The new taskforce does not go far enough.

“It is clear that a Shannon River Authority is needed to ensure proper co-ordination and a robust response from the various agencies and to minimise flood risk and flood damage in the future.

“The Bill, which Teachta Stanley and I are introducing today, establishes an Agency with overall responsibility for the assessment and management of flood risk and flood defences along the River Shannon; for co-ordinating the work of key stakeholders in the region; and for preparing a Strategic Plan for management of the River Shannon.

“It would be properly and adequately resourced under the auspices of the Office of Public Works. The issue of the management of the Shannon has been discussed as far back as the foundation of the State. This Bill would ensure that some positive and constructive action is finally taken.” 

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